Monogamous And Nonmonogamous Men’s Brains Respond Differently To Romantic Images by Z. Vrangalova
…. Results showed no differences in brain activation between the monogamous and nonmonogamous men when they were watching sexual images: Both groups found these images equally arousing. Given that sexual behavior is inherently pleasurable for humans (no continuation of the species without it, really!), this was hardly surprising.
However, the brains of the two groups differed quite a bit when it came to romantic stimuli.
Monogamous men had increased activation in limbic and reward-related areas of the brain (for the neuroscience nerds out there, the right hemisphere thalamus, nucleus accumbens, caudate, pallidum, putamen, insula and prefrontal cortex) compared to nonmonogamous men.
These are the same brain areas that past studies find light up when people who are madly in love look at photos of their loved ones.
….Furthermore, among monogamous men, areas that were active when viewing romantic pictures were still active while viewing sexual pictures, indicating that sexual and romantic stimuli are closely related for them.
By contrast, nonmonogamous men’s brain showed additional activity during romantic stimuli in several regions of the cortex that were not active during the sexual photos (including bilateral frontal and orbitofrontal cortex, RH pre- and postcentral gyri, bilateral superior temporal cortex and LH angular gyrus).
This suggests there is a greater difference between romance and sex for nonmonogamous men.